The Taliban has appointed Mohammad Hasan Akhund, a close aide to the movement’s late founder Mullah Omar, as head of Afghanistan’s new caretaker government, week after the last American troops departed Kabul, and nearly a month after the fall of Kabul to the militant group.
The list of cabinet members was dominated by the Taliban’s old guard, announced by chief spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Tuesday.
Mohammad Hasan Akhund
Mullah Akhund is the longtime head of the Taliban’s supreme body Rehbari Shura, or leadership council.
Akhund who has had far less international exposure than other senior Taliban leaders, played a crucial leadership and guidance role in the Rahbari Shura council of leaders, formed after the Taliban was driven out of power in a US-led military invasion in 2001.
The 53-year-old was previously the foreign minister and then deputy prime minister during the Taliban’s last stint in power from 1996-2001.
Akhund hails from Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, and is the author of several works on Islam.
Akhund is considered a terrorist by the UN, EU and UK, and has been sanctioned by the UN Security Council, along with every member of the Taliban government named on Tuesday. A UN sanctions report described him as a “close associate and political adviser” to Mullah Omar.
The head of Afghanistan’s new caretaker government is highly respected within the movement, especially by its supreme leader, Haibatullah Akhunzada, a Taliban source told the news agency Reuters.
Mullah Akhund has Pashtun lineage from Ahmad Shah Durrani – the founder of modern Afghanistan (circa 1700s), according to Al Jazeera.